Making the Transition
As most of you know I made the decision late in 2011 to take my pro card for 2012. With this came the amazing opportunity to be on The Triathlon Squad. A large part of the benefit of being on the squad is spending close to 20 weeks throughout the year in specific locations like San Diego, California. I get the chance to train with coach Paulo “on deck” for our sessions as well as the benefit of having 10-12 other athletes pushing each other every day.
I admittedly am a creature of habit as well as a sort of homebody in that I get comfortable with my surroundings and I like to keep things constant from day to day. Case in point, I have gone periods of time where I eat the same breakfast every day for years on end without any desire at all to try something new. In January, I had the opportunity to travel to my first 2-week-long camp in Las Cruces, it literally took around 10 days before I really felt comfortable and in a routine at camp. My body was sore from a higher volume of training that I had ever experienced, but I was just becoming familiar with routes, comfortable with my training partners, the pool, my meals, etc. For this reason I felt like the last 3-4 days of camp was really where I began to make some noticeable gains in my daily performance. Fortunately the way our schedules are designed, if we as athletes are able to stay focused on putting in quality work each session, the routine leads to consistent gains and adaptations. It was the first time in my life that I started to wrap my head around the fact that now rather than trying to fit training in around everything else that I do, everything else I do is fit around my training. Each day I need to focus on how to optimize each session. Quality sessions 3 times a day every day. Not only was my focus on the sessions themselves, but also the recovery in between, and having the proper mindset each day. I have found this takes a conscious effort, and rarely are there times where the brain is just shut off.
After camp I came home for three weeks before traveling to my next camp in San Diego. The beginning of this camp presented some new challenges as the first week I was incredibly sick. I somewhat went through the motions and it took all of that first week to gain my strength back. Couple that with swimming in a 50m pool, as well as my already admitted slow adaptation to new environments, and I definitely didn’t have my most stellar week of training. Fortunately, it is starting to become second nature that there is no need to “make up” for lost time regarding workouts. Like I stated before, the daily approach has to be the same regardless of the past day, week, etc. Focusing on doing one last 400 on the track anything different then the first 14 doesn’t lead to success, it often leads to injury, burnout, and in essence it is regressing to a weekend warrior approach. Another reason why squad training is so beneficial is each day, is that Paulo and the other athletes reinforce this correct mindset. At the end of camp after logging around 80 separate workouts I can honestly say that there were only 2-3 workouts that were “throw away” workouts. Workouts that just basically were of no future benefit. This was due to my own lack of motivation, execution, etc and I plan to have less of these in the future.
Here is what it comes down to. I decided to look back at previous training and rate it on a 1-10 scale. 1 being complete offseason and 10 being laser focused. In my lead up to Kona as an amateur the last two years I previously would have rated a 10. Around March leading up to the season I would have in past years rated a 6-7. This takes into consideration time I had to train, consistency, quality of training, and overall benefit and progression in training. If I were to now re-rate those time periods based on what I have experienced at camp with the squad I would rate camp 10, Kona buildup 6-7, and previous training in early spring to be 3-4. Am I making gains when I look at the clock, power meter, etc?… Yes, however, the major benefit is just my overall mindset and focus I am able to put in day to day.
I am excited to say that I know that this is just the start. I am working to be successful not only in the short term, but ultimately a successful triathlon career and I feel like the first few steps are going well. Do I expect to encounter bumps in the road? Without a doubt. My plan is to just continue to work through whatever obstacles and successes I have along the way. Easier said than done. I am sure I will have future blog posts about that aspect. The ultimate gauge undoubtedly comes in the form of performance on race day and I will have the opportunity to test myself in close to a month at NOLA 70.3. There is still a good amount of work to do and though it is not the end-all-be-all race of the season, I am more than looking forward to toeing the line in what will be my pro debut. I have yet to set out all the parameters of what I will consider success when all is said and done, but I never go into anything with small expectations or goals. One thing is for sure, I wake up every morning thankful and energized that this is the path I have been blessed to choose and I am ready to make the most of it.